HKTV still hopeful of free-to-air television licence despite HK$240m loss

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 March, 2015, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 March, 2015, 6:33pm

Hong Kong Television Network has not given up its quest for a free-to-air broadcasting licence despite reporting a HK$237 million loss in the 16 months ending December last year.

The broadcaster, now using an over-the-top platform to air its programmes, “does not wish to give up considering the use of other transmission standards for broadcasting,” it said in a financial report.

Its current platform, launched in November last year, can only be viewed on computers, smartphones, smart TV or via TV boxes. It contains a television programme platform and an online shopping platform.

A loss of HK$237 million was recorded for the 16 months ending on December 31 last year.

The company changed its financial year from previously 12 months to 16 months. A HK$40.3 million loss was recorded in the 12 months ending August 2013.

For the month ending March 15, 988,000 viewers watched programmes on HKTV’s television programme platform while more than 1.13 million users browsed its online shopping platform, the station said. The figures might include overlapping, it said.

HKTV, chaired by Ricky Wong Wai-kay, filed its latest application for a free-to-air licence in April last year, about six months after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced his decision against its previous licence application.

The company’s bid continues as the future of cash-strapped broadcaster ATV, which holds one of the two current licences, remains uncertain.

ATV’s licence is due to expire in November but the Executive Council has yet to make up its mind whether to grant a renewal. ATV has also been struggling to raise funds while failing to pay wages on time in the past three months.

Last-ditch negotiations to save the troubled broadcaster are still in progress.

The South China Morning Post learned that a Hongkonger was willing to pay HK$500 million for a 52.42 per cent stake from major shareholder Wong Ben-koon, a relative of mainland investor Wong Ching.

But the potential buyer baulked at Wong Ching’s insistence on closing the deal at HK$700 million, sources said.